The 'New York Times' Hillary Clinton Endorsement Included A Crucially Important Line
It was basically a foregone conclusion, but still, you can add another notch to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's list of high-profile endorsements: The editorial board of The New York Times has officially backed her for president. They laid out a wide number of reasons for doing so, and while they didn't downplay the deliciously metaphorical elephant in the room ― the presence of Donald J. Trump as her opponent ― they didn't stop there. In fact, the single most important line from The New York Times ' Clinton endorsement was about getting away from focusing on Trump, and instead focusing on making a positive case for Clinton's election.
It's actually been a criticism that some Democrats have been lobbing at the Clinton campaign in recent weeks, that she needs to spend more time making the pitch for why she should be president, rather than why Trump shouldn't be. And regardless of whether you think that's a good strategic move, the editorial board of the Times clearly does.
Running down the other guy won’t suffice to make that argument. The best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isn’t Donald Trump. The best case is, instead, about the challenges this country faces, and Mrs. Clinton’s capacity to rise to them.
The Times editorial board goes on to cite a number of achievements that give them confidence in Clinton's qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief: her championing of women's rights and valiant (yet failed) attempt to pass health care reform as First Lady, her work on children's health insurance, and her advocacy and policy proposals on gun control.
But the thing about making an affirmative case for a presidential candidate is that at some point, the candidate needs to do that on their own. It can't strictly fall to the media to make that case. And even though it's a very challenging situation for Clinton, given her unfavorable ratings at present ― according to HuffPost Pollster, her favorability ratings are significantly underwater by about 16 points ― a case based on her ability to do the job is something that would serve her very well if handled properly.
There's a natural reluctance to make that kind of case when the media and the polls keep telling you that people just don't like you, sure. But if she could find a note to strike that to generated just a wee bit more clarity and appreciation on both her record, and her vision of what her America might look like (as Trump has done, in decidedly negative and stark terms), it could help put this race out of Trump's reach.
In fact, it could be the single most unanticipated and effective move Clinton could make in the upcoming presidential debate, especially after all the expectations-setting that's been going on, with reports that she's exhaustively figuring out ways to needle and rile Trump. Coming out even-keeled and restrained, while making a staunch and unapologetic case for the strength of her record, could help Clinton have a very strong night.